Here's a question I hear a lot at CQWNTS... What do I need to do to become a trailer editor? What can I do to be more creative? Or this one, as if it's a sport, what practice drills can I do to be better?
These are great questions. And if you are asking them it says a lot about you. You are hungry, motivated, and really want to be in this game. All great things.
But instead of asking "what should I do?" Or "what do I need to do?"... How about framing it as "What haven't I done?"
When we say "What do I need to do?", we often don't say a few words in that sentence even though we mean it. When we say "What do I need to do?", what we really mean is "What are the least amount of things I need to do...to accomplish said goal?". Or "what is the bare minimum I need to do... to accomplish this goal?" As you can see the conotation is a bit different, the meaning is a bit different.
When you ask your self "what haven't I done to accomplish said goal", we go from a minimal approach to a sky's the limit everything is possible approach. We go from doing a few things to doing everything we can to succeed and bring us one step closer to our goals. We go from passive to aggressive!
For example, "What haven't I done... to be a better editor?"... Have I studied my favorite trailers and took notes on why I like them? Have I cut a scene? A spot? Or a trailer as an experiment? Have I thought up new ideas on how to approach this scene? New ways to cut this scene?
It's very subtle but the approach and angle the line is coming from is very different.
"What do I need to do?", also implies that their is a known path to your goal, that if you do these series of steps your goal will be accomplished. Want to make a pie? Buy these ingredients; mix, fold, blend in them in these measured amounts; and bake in percisely this temperature. Want to edit master piece? Find these sound effects, read books on psychology, anthropology and sociology and go into this emotional state of mind and poof! ... You'll have... Nothing even close to a master piece!
This isn't to say there aren't certain steps you can take or tips you can do, techniques or lessons to be learned from Master Editors, but it certainly isn't the only way.
Success isn't limited to one set of people approaching the world from the same particular point of view, doing things the exact same way it was done previously. In fact those who are most successful approach things differently, think of problems differently, and do things in a rather unique way. Look at Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Martin Luther King Jr., their approach and the path to success were very different then their contemporaries, predecessors, and competitors, and so were their results. That's not to say they didn't use techniques from the old model. But that they didn't limit themselves to it.
Next time you have a goal don't ask "what do I need to do?" Ask "what haven't I done?" and see what you actually do... If you work hard, want it bad enough, and bit luckily... The thing you actually do might be your goal!